I Like Big Ruts And I Cannot Lie

From FT.com 

Looks nice, but .51 is a pretty bad Gini coefficient. Being somewhere under thirty is rare and looks like a Europe only club, but a goal every nation should have… IN MY HUMBLE ASS OPINION.

This article sat right next to one on Brazil’s bear market experiencing poor growth. If you pay attention to Europe then this already appeared to be a likely outcome. Loss is something every major emerging market experienced in the last month, the news had all of BRIC at the brink of of a new stone age. I still expect Brazil to come flying out the gate(On the back of Petrobras, sugar, coffee, and a stable real) in about 2 years, when the crisis in the west is over. I’ll be sitting on this post as proof, my documented, “I told you so”

Latin America and Foreign Direct Investment

I was just going to make this ECLAC report a link in the upcoming LINKS post, but I can’t trust you to click a seventy page pdf can I? There’s some interesting stuff in here, so it wouldn’t hurt to share. Before we go any further, it’s important to know what FDI is. Now that we have that covered, lets get to the meat of this post.

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Not Quite Yet

Kill all the “peak oil” talk, and hopefully the idea of even more painful prices at the pump. According to the Belfer Center’s Geopolitics of Energy Project, we still have a little wiggle room left with recent findings. I’m already familiar with the massive deposits Brazil found — the way they’ve handle the foreign direct investment in these oil projects has me feeling more optimistic about their growth than any country not named China or India. Angola and a couple of other African countries have managed to stumble upon a couple of fields as well. I always wondered what type of lifespan we’re looking at in these new-found oil black gold mines and it looks like the project just might have the answer and them some. From the research update,

1) field-by-field analysis of all projects underway in the most relevant countries in terms of production growth to 2020; 2) oil depletion rates, as calculated by several, influential sources; 3) the oil price-level and the other most relevant factors (geopolitics, political decisions, etc.) that may affect production growth in this decade. Moreover, a special, detailed focus is devoted to assess the geological, economic, and technical realities which support the development of U.S. shale oil, that may represent the biggest new oil frontier in many decades and a real “paradigm-changer”. The results of this research will later be analyzed in terms of potential impact on the oil market, oil geopolitics, other energy sources, and environmental/climate change public policies

Sounds good to me. I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out for this.

Damn, It Kinda Sucks For Me Here

In the January 28th print edition of The Economist, I read an article that glossed over the subject of affirmative action in Brazil. I have some issues with piece, but it’s still pretty informative if you’re clueless about Blacks in Brazil. If you thought I was talking about a porn title(Even if you know better, click, I will reference it constantly without providing quotes), then the link is a definite pro-click. Brazil is currently the holder of the second largest black population in the world. Nigeria owns the title, and boy is the crown/head heavy over there. Second blackest is a pretty interesting title to hold for a country not in Africa, and Brazil responded with mix results. One of the mixed results is affirmative action. Here is part of an argument for getting rid of it,

Importing American-style affirmative action risks forcing Brazilians to place themselves in strict racial categories rather than somewhere along a spectrum, says Peter Fry, a British-born, naturalised-Brazilian anthropologist. Having worked in southern Africa, he says that Brazil’s avoidance of “the crystallizing of race as a marker of identity” is a big advantage in creating a democratic society.

The idea of affirmative action being unwanted because they can’t pretend that they’re the rainbow nation, is making me twitch in disgust. Oh no, we have to admit race exists within our class consciousness and respond appropriately! The Black Brazilian experience is clearly different from that of the Americans, but similarities do exist. There are a several quotes pointing this out. This is one of the more explicit,

In Brazil you have an invisible enemy. Nobody’s racist. But when your daughter goes out with a black, things change,

Things change, because like in America, black people are expected to play certain roles. One of these roles is not the guy carving out a future with your daughter. Parents are uneasy about a black boyfriend because he is believed to be inferior in a variety of ways. Racial stereotyping isn’t exclusive to white parents. Just try being black, and in an interracial relationship involving Arab, Asian, Hispanic or Centaur(it really doesn’t seem to matter) parents. In many cases your love will be a huge no-no. Why is this? All across the world, being black carries a set of negative connotations. Being black supposedly means you aren’t smart and/or hard-working enough: you’re just a physical specimen good for hard labor and entertainment. In Brazil, many are comfortable with them on farms, in something as gross as favelas, in the service industry and on the pitch, but not in the office- not in their blue-eyed daughters. People are usually color-blind until you invade their personal space with all your blackity blackness.

I’m sorry, but you just don’t become the last nation to abolish slavery, and get to say you’re in a post-racial society. It just doesn’t work like that. IPEA’s empirics, supplemented by personal anecdotes(in the article), should be more than enough to make the case for affirmative action. It still managed to make Brazilians of European descent swoop down on the article’s comment section, to complain about providing benefits to those of African descent. The rejection of opportunity is a direct attack on the humanity of blacks, and very powerful psychological blow. They come in, make their case for dumping it and leaving blacks exposed to what they believe to be a merit based society. The reasoning lends itself to the narrative of black failure being the natural outcome of  inferior people competing with white excellence. The reality is the system had marginalized these people, and then failed them. How do you expect someone to move up without access to higher education?

Affirmative action isn’t a state response to hatred for someone’s color, it is a direct challenge to ill-gotten privilege. The policy creates social remittances that will reverberate throughout the black community. It will help change the black identity for the better, as long as the Brazilians response to recognizing race is a positive one. It isn’t the occupation of undeserved roster spots, it is host to the transformation of the franchise. Education is the key to making the transition from provincial people to global citizens. To deny this only reinforces existing inequalities – it is also a selfish and morally bankrupt act. The state made the correct decision in bringing affirmative action to its institutions. Keep up the good work.

Run Tell Dat: SOTU Response

The quoted text below is from Greg Mankiw’s blog, his response to the president’s state of the union address. I’d have to say I agree with Mankiw on his second item. Yes, I am aware that he was a Bush adviser, it says it right in the quote. I’m pretty sure Mankiw didn’t do a 9/11 though; nor did he throw our economy under the bus with a sick jutsu. I will assume anyone reading this has a good idea how that happened. Yes, I am aware that he advised or currently advises Mitt Romney, on matters of the economy and possibly the heart. These revelations in no way imply that this man is ass backwards, as a person or economist. Mankiw is not some monstrous entity leading the charge against all that is right in the world, crushing the little pea heads at OWS with mean math. I consider myself to be pretty far left, with an appetite for Marxist critique. At the same time, there’s still an actual real world to operate in, with conditions that won’t change any time soon. Our country’s prevailing ideas lean heavily towards,  if not a reflection of a world ideal for those with capital. With that said, there are still ways to care, understanding the current system and figuring out works best for people. Protectionism in America, is not in the least bit appealing to me or the developing world.

2. I was disappointed, and even a bit surprised, that the President adopted the xenophobic approach to outsourcing and international trade.  Usually, on issues of international trade, the President plays the role of grown-up and leaves it up to Congress to gin up populist ire.  That is true of both parties.  Recall that President Clinton pushed NAFTA through.

When President Obama bragged that his administration had substantially increased trade cases against China compared with his predecessor, it made me proud to be one of President Bush’s advisers.  (Not that the Bush administration was perfect on trade issues.  It is just good to know we were better.)  These trade cases include such things as anti-dumping claims, which in many cases are just the modern face of protectionism.  Phill Swagel and I wrote about anti-dumping laws here.

If it’s any consolation, America isn’t the only country getting petty with protectionism. Brazil churns out anti dumping cases against China at an alarming(yet funny) rate. It might actually be its biggest export when it comes to the Brazil-Sino relationship which is still somehow blooming. The nature of anti-dumping(As described in the piece Mankiw links) has gotten to the point that I’m not even sure if the Chinese even take offense to it. All cases are met with a sagely bro nod, it knows better.

Since this is a blog, and I’m allowed an informal nature as long as I can stand my own writing, I’d like to add my own quick reaction to part of Obama’s SOTU. I recall Obama talking about “deepening” or perhaps he said “strengthening” America’s ties with Latin America. As the honorable Jay-Z once said,

“We don’t believe you, you need more people”

The US relationship with Latin America can be described as tepid at best. From Brazil claiming to be in a currency war that involves the dollar, to the death of the DREAM act, and the continued failure to properly understand the American consumer’s role in a drug war that has many in Mexico and Central America, living in fear. There are also several state level laws passed, most notably in Arizona and Alabama, that has put a strain on the US relationship down South. Obama has to do better in 2012, there’s no excuse for so little progress.

Help! She’s Broken And I Can’t Get Up!

Possibly in anticipation of having the world’s lustful gaze set upon it – the Brazilian government has decided it will come out its own pocket to replaced ruptured implants. Deus forbid, tourists from all over the world come for the Olympics and sex tourism, only to find a wasteland of broken tits and asses. The most sacred symmetry, ruined.

Yes, there are health risks involved, but most would figure if you have the privilege of tricking out your god given ride of the physical realm –  then you likely have the privilege to deal with the risks. Why put this bunda burden on the tax payer? These cosmetic changes are optional and provide zero health benefits outside an improvement in quality of life. That’s a very reasonable response, but in a place like Rio De Janeiro, the plastic surgery capital of the world – going under the scalpel for the aesthetic is a civil liberty. Us morbidly obese Americans will never understand; some of us(horrible people) are still pissed at the idea of robust government healthcare for all. This is partially why, in my expert opinion, the people of Brazil are much hotter than us. Kudos to Rouseff for recognizing the culture and fixing the cutlets.